Growing Up

Awkward pre-interview face.

Awkward pre-interview face.

My life may be just a few weeks away from changing a lot. I had my first Skype interview late last week with a TV station in Tulsa, OK and then a phone interview with a weather app start-up company in the Bay Area the other day. I know I was complaining 2 months ago about how my job search was going nowhere but now I suddenly have interviews for two different jobs in just a few days. Crazy how life works sometimes!

I don’t want to talk too much about the jobs because nothing is close to finalized on either one yet but it got me thinking about how I’ve been growing up a lot lately. First, I graduated from college in December. I remember when college seemed so far away, let alone graduating college and going out into the real world.

The job search has been a whole other story. I’ve gone through times of excitement, finding jobs I’d hope I’d get. I went through frustration and disappointment when I didn’t hear back from any of the jobs I’d applied to. And now I’m kind of in a state of disbelief, as I consider that I could very well be moving to another state & another time zone very soon and starting my first job and really figuring out where to go with my life.

And then just other things in my life are changing, and helping me grow up. I’m apartment hunting, trying to figure out a budget for when I have a job, finding more confidence in myself, and maturing in my relationship with my parents & sister. I had some rough times last weekend, a few heart-to-hearts and I realized that my parents are still very worried about me with my thoughts towards food & my body. Remember my Fully Raw February challenge? That came to an end a little sooner than I’d thought due to getting sick and having my mom tell me that she thought I was being restrictive. I felt mostly really great eating raw but I realized I missed some things (namely peanut flour, lentils and sweet potatoes!) and having some digestive issues made me realize that I couldn’t sacrifice my health just to stick to a way of eating that I thought was ideal. I’m still eating somewhat raw, but being less restrictive and trying to figure out how to reincorporate foods I used to love while not feeling afraid of eating them. I made sweet potato+kale enchiladas with my dad the other night and I didn’t feel too guilty for eating corn tortillas or cooked food!

A [mostly] raw lunch that I felt good about eating.

A [mostly] raw lunch that I felt good about eating.

Things are changing over here, so there might be some changes coming to the blog too. I can’t promise any consistency in my posting, but I want to share updates a few times a week and keep up with my favorite blogs. I hope you’re all okay with that!

Any big changes going on in your life right now or soon?

Adventures In Raw: How Anyone Can Eat More Raw

As I’ve been mentioning in my posts all week, I’ve been wanting to talk about how easy eating raw is and how anyone can do it. Now, eating high raw or 100% raw is quite an undertaking and involves a lot of planning and dietary changes for the average person, but you don’t have to eat fully raw to reap the benefits of raw food!

  • Add in more fresh fruits and veggies

I know some people can’t handle certain veggies raw, and that’s okay. But many veggies are more nutritious when eaten in their raw state, and personally, I think most taste better raw. I’m obsessed with raw cauliflower and I prefer eating my greens and carrots fresh. Even things like sweet potatoes can be eaten raw (if dehydrated) and you’ll definitely be getting more nutrients out of them when they’re fresh. As for fruits, it’s even easier to go raw! And while you’re at it, why not try some new fruits and veggies when you’re making a grocery list? You’ll never know what you may love if you don’t try it.

This should be the basis of everyone's diet--fresh produce!

This should be the basis of everyone’s diet–fresh produce!

  • Sprout and soak your grains and legumes

Beans and grains can be hard for some people to digest, and for good reason. They contain lectins and other anti-nutrients which can cause lots of problems in your body. No wonder the paleo people are so against grains and legumes! But you don’t need to give them up…just follow in the footsteps of traditional cultures who always soak and sprout their grains and beans. Soaking and fermenting not only eliminate the issues with these foods, but they also unlock the nutritional properties of them, so you get more bang for your buck. Take some time to prepare these foods properly, and your body will thank you…and so will your wallet, because buying dried beans and grains is cheaper than buying them canned or pre-packaged.

If you eat wheat, and love bread, make the switch to sprouted grain products like Ezekiel. Their breads are different than most, since they’re made from whole sprouted grains instead of nutrient-poor flour. I don’t eat this anymore since it’s not raw, but it’s a good transitional product!

I miss these sprouted sunflower seeds...so good!

I miss these sprouted sunflower seeds…so good!

  • Buy from the bulk section.

I love getting my dried fruit and nuts from the bulk section at Whole Foods because then I can buy only what I need. Whole Foods in particular has a great selection of raw nuts, sun-dried fruits and even things like raw granola so it’s perfect for the raw foodie. Some of my favorites from this section include Medjool dates, hemp hearts, Living Intentions sprouted sunflower seeds and greens, raw mixed nuts, rawpumpkin seeds and Turkish figs.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you’re striving to be high raw, like I am, it can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be ‘perfect’. The thing is, it’s okay to eat cooked foods if that’s what your body (or mind) wants. If you stick to plant-based meals, there’s no reason to feel guilty. Just remind yourself that you chose this lifestyle for a reason, because it’s so nourishing and healthful, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat ‘perfectly’ all the time. In fact, I’m going out to eat with my parents tonight for Valentine’s Day (hot date, right 😉 ), and while I would rather stay in and make one of my delicious raw meals, I’m going to enjoy a cooked meal tonight and then get back on track with my regular lifestyle!

I might be eating a cheeseless vegan pizza like this and even though I'd rather eat a raw dinner, I'll still enjoy myself.

I might be eating an artisan, organic cheeseless vegan pizza like this and even though I’d rather eat a raw dinner, I’ll still enjoy myself.

What’s something you prefer to eat raw instead of cooked?

My First Resolutions

Happy New Year! It feels so weird that the holidays are already over, and even weirder that I won’t be heading back to school in a couple of weeks, so I’m not really getting back into any sort of routine. I really want to enjoy the time I have off though, because even though I’m beyond excited to get my first real job, I know I won’t have much free time once I start. So I’m excited to have some down time at home…but I’m hoping it doesn’t last more than a few months!

I’m not one to make resolutions. I do like to set goals for myself, but they’re rarely something I put into words. I really want to set some goals for myself this year, because my life will be changing a LOT, and I want to set some clear resolutions for myself. I’m not saying I’ll be perfect at all of these goals, but having them written down keeps me accountable to them, and I think choosing more realistic goals will help me achieve them.

1. Apply to at least 3 jobs per week. Ideally, I’d like to apply to one (on average) each week day, so 5 per week. But if I get at least 3 applications done, I’ll be happy.

2. Drink more water! Having a reusable water bottle handy in the fridge has helped me drink more water over the past 6 months, but I would like to go through at least 2 full water bottles each day. That’s 2 pints of water, and I think that’s a doable goal.

3. Eat more raw foods. This is a little harder to do in the winter months, when fresh produce isn’t as good and I want warming foods more often. But I know I feel my best when my diet is at least 50% raw, so I’m planning on incorporating at least one big salad per day (I usually do this anyway), fresh fruit at every meal and trying my hand at sprouting beans/grains.

I will definitely keep eating banana softserve for breakfast as often as possible.

I will definitely keep eating banana softserve for breakfast as often as possible.

4. Take control of my health. I mentioned in this post that I haven’t had my period in now (almost) 8 months. Obviously, that isn’t healthy and I know I need to see my doctor about this issue. I think there are some other underlying issues, since I’m dealing with acne and I’m not as lean as I think I should be for how clean I eat and how much I exercise. On that last topic, I really think I need to change my routine drastically–I don’t incorporate rest days as much as I should (I take one once or twice a month on average, and they’re very hard for me to take mentally), I have some digestive problems (even after cutting out most gluten) and I’m not sure I’m eating enough for my workouts. I will definitely discuss these issues with my doctor and hopefully I can get an answer as to why my body isn’t functioning the way it should.

5. Do something out of my comfort zone. I tend to be kinda cautious and not totally adventurous, but I’m really considering doing something that scares me, like cutting my hair shorter or telling somebody I love them or going skydiving or something. Okay, probably not that last one, but I need to challenge myself in some way. I think that maybe if I end up moving out of state for my first job, it’ll be a big step out of my comfort zone since I’ve never lived farther than 2 hours away from my family. We’ll see what happens with this one!

6. Stop comparing myself to other people. This is one of my biggest bad habits. I constantly compare my body, my workouts, my lifestyle choices, my success to other people’s and all it does is make me miserable. I need to take more pride in myself, and realize that there’s no point in comparing myself to other people because I’m unique and I need to respect that.

I can see more selfies in my future as a way to reassure myself that I'm awesome just the way I am!

I can see more selfies in my future as a way to reassure myself that I’m awesome just the way I am!

Do you make resolutions or goals? What are some of yours for 2014?

WIAW: On Repeat

I’ve been eating a lot of the same things lately. That’s not to say I haven’t been trying new things/recipes, but I’ve been really feeling a few favorites this week, and I’ve been repeating them…a lot.

Banana softserves with various toppings.

Banana softserves with various toppings.

Breakfasts have been of the banana softserve variety for…ummmm…2 to 3 weeks now? Yep, this is one of the longer breakfast ruts, and I’m hoping it’ll last awhile. I love having something cold and fruity in the morning, and this fits the bill. Toppings are necessary, at least in my world, and generally homemade protein balls+homemade coconut butter lately.

Snackplates for snacks...and lunch. Full-size organic carrots, raw flax crackers, fresh pineapple+mango+golden raspberries, homemade PB&J bites, homemade guac from half an avocado.

Snack plates for snacks…and lunch. Full-size organic carrots, raw flax crackers, fresh pineapple+mango+golden raspberries, homemade PB&J bites, homemade guac from half an avocado.

Snack plates have just been super easy to throw together, and I’m loving them for lunch now too. Luckily, my snack plates have evolved from a lot of crackers and chips (I thought they were healthy because they were organic/vegan, but not so!) to mostly fresh fruits and veggies with a few ‘fun’ things that still have plenty of nutritional value. Take the flax crackers–packed with omega 3s, raw and made with lots of veggies. And the PB&J bites were a random thing I threw together in the food processor and basically made from dates, raisins and peanut flour. So good…too bad I ran out of peanut flour!

My mom's hibiscus plant is finally flowering!

My mom’s hibiscus plant is finally flowering!

As much as I loved our old house, I like our new yard because we’ve planted so many flowers, veggies and herbs. I love this hibiscus especially because it’s so tropical and smells amazing. And I’m excited because my Japanese eggplant is flowering, and my hot pepper plants are growing baby peppers!

Awkward OOTD. Only wearing glasses because my contacts bothered my eyes...stupid allergies.

Awkward OOTD. Only wearing glasses because my contacts bothered my eyes…stupid allergies.

I’m starting to feel okay with my body, at least some days. Yesterday was a bit hard, because I chose to wear a bodycon-style dress. I love it, and think it looks cute, but I always feel so self-conscious about how my stomach looks in it, especially after meals. I’ve gotta remind myself that everyone’s stomach expands after eating (duh!) and no one else notices or cares but me. Same with my arms. For some reason, they tend to be my most hated body part, and some days I think they look toned and lean, while others they look huge to me. Working through these feelings and telling myself they’re just temporary helps me avoid getting stuck in a bad body image rut.

Snack plate for snack too! Watermelon, Sunwarrior protein dip, raw zucchini with garlic gomasio (told ya I'm obsessed), raw maple walnuts, blueberries.

Snack plate for snack too! Watermelon, Sunwarrior protein dip, raw zucchini with garlic gomasio (told ya I’m obsessed), raw maple walnuts, blueberries.

Snack time snack plates are about the same as lunchtime ones, only with different veggies and fruit. I’ve been trying to get in veggies at lunch, snack and dinner and have been going strong with that for a couple of weeks. Gotta love fueling up with produce!

Raw vegan goat 'cheese'.

Raw vegan goat ‘cheese’.

I love making raw vegan cheeses. I was never a huge fan of cheese pre-veganism, but now I love homemade vegan cheeses.

Raw Goat Cheez (vegan, gluten free, raw, grain free)

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 1 hour (I recommend longer)

1-4 tbsp water (less for thicker cheez)

1/2 tsp olive oil (optional, adds Mediterranean flavor)

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a food processor, blend soaked and drained cashews until they begin to resemble cashew butter. Add in remaining ingredients until combined. Spoon into cheesecloth or coffee filter (this helps thicken and strain the cheez) and place in a small bowl in the fridge. Serve with flax crackers, veggies or on salads. Makes 1/4 cup.

Salads on salads on salads. Organic spinach base, organic chickpeas topped with nooch, homemade guac.

Salads on salads on salads. Organic spinach base, organic chickpeas topped with nooch, homemade guac.

I’ve been getting my daily dose of greens with dinner, in the form of salads. My greens of choice have been baby spinach and chopped romaine lettuce. I’ve been loving chickpeas on salads, guac and nooch (for taco salads), strawberries and balsamic, my raw goat cheez. Anything goes on my salads…well, almost.

Desserts have also been snackplate-y, but with more fruit. And chocolate.

Desserts have also been snackplate-y, but with more fruit. And chocolate.

I’ve either been doing Sunwarrior protein mixed with coconut water as a base for fruit+coconut butter, or mini snack plates with berries, raw cacao powder+coconut oil+a little raw local honey mixed to make a raw chocolate dip, dates and homemade protein bites. Half a Larabar with some fruit has been happening too. I haven’t been 100% raw every day, but I’m trying to stay high raw at every meal, while incorporating some non-raw sources of protein like beans. So far, it’s working for me and I like not having to be so strict with my macros. I feel like I’m eating healthier than ever, and as a result, my mindset around food and my body has been healthier as well.

 

What foods/meals have you been repeating lately?

Adventures in Raw: 80-10-10 or Gourmet?

I want to preface this post by saying I don’t believe there’s one right way of eating for everyone. Not only is it a matter of personal preference, but it’s also a matter of what works for YOU and your body and lifestyle. I do think that the SAD (standard American diet) way of eating isn’t good for anyone, but within the spectrum of healthy eating, there are millions of variations and one way doesn’t work for everyone.

If you do any research into the world of raw foodism, you’ll most likely stumble upon two different ways of thinking and eating. The most-discussed one is the 80-10-10 diet, which is based primarily on fresh fruits and vegetables, with the addition of some overt fats (things like avocados, coconut and raw nuts) very occasionally. The name ’80-10-10′ refers to the macro breakdown: 80% carbs, 10% protein, 10% fat. 80-10-10ers believe that it isn’t fruit or the sugars in them that make us fat, but the combination of sugars (primarily processed ones) and fats. They consume mostly fruit in order to get enough calories (and they generally recommend at least 2500 calories per day) and eat greens and other veggies to get more vitamins and nutrients.

An 80-10-10 approved mono meal of peaches.

An 80-10-10 approved mono meal of peaches.

On the other end of the raw spectrum is gourmet raw foodists. They also shun processed foods but focus their diets on raw, plant-based sources of fat–coconut, nuts and seeds, avocados. They generally get upwards of 50% fat in their diet, with relatively low carbs and moderate protein from the more protein-rich fat sources. They still eat plenty of fresh produce, but veggies and especially fruit are rarely the base of their diet.

Even though I’m not strictly 100% raw right now, I’ve still been considering both of these forms of raw foodism. Where do I fall, and which one is better? For me, I believe a balance between the two is optimal. I think fresh produce should be the base of everyone’s diet, but I’m not about to eat 15+ bananas in a day and nothing else. I also think greens are very healthful, but there’s honestly no point in eating them if they aren’t consumed with a fat. The nutrients found in fresh veggies can’t make it to the bloodstream as easily if they aren’t eaten with a fat–numerous articles and studies are coming out saying that having some fat with your salad is actually a good thing, and better than having a salad with fat-free dressing, for many reasons. I’m not a fan of most salad dressings from the store, but I love topping my salads with raw seeds or guacamole or a homemade cashew-based dressing. Am I freaking out because I’m eating more than 10% fat? Heck no! I definitely don’t want to go back to my eating disordered days where I was scared of fat. I’ve come to love my healthy plant-based sources of fat and I don’t feel guilty for enjoying these whole foods. However, I don’t plan on going to the other extreme and consuming most of my calories from fat–there is a limit to how beneficial fats can be and I wouldn’t want to crowd out other nutritious foods just to eat more fats.

I prefer more balanced macros, as seen in this banana softserve creation--still raw, but with protein (Sunwarrior) and fat (pumpkin seeds).

I prefer more balanced macros, as seen in this banana softserve creation–still raw, but with protein (Sunwarrior) and fat (pumpkin seeds).

I’m also probably eating more than 10% protein, from the nuts and seeds and Sunwarrior powder and sprouted legumes I eat, and that’s okay too! I don’t buy into the hype that we need so much protein (because we actually don’t), and 10% seems to be the magic number or at least the minimum for even active people, but I do like to have a little more than that to fuel my lifting workouts. Protein is in so many things, even vegetables, that it isn’t hard to hit 10-15% or more eating just plant-based sources.

A lot of things, especially eating, always seem to be so black-and-white, like one way is wrong and the other’s right, but it doesn’t have to be that way! You can eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and still enjoy plant-based fats and protein on a raw diet–it doesn’t have to be high carb low fat or high fat low carb. Moderation is always best, and when it comes to diets that are already pretty dang healthy as it is, there’s no need to nitpick over the logistics. Just eat whole foods from the earth, raw if you roll that way and don’t stress if it isn’t ‘perfect’.

What’s your take on the ongoing diet battles? 

WIAW: Going Raw-ish

One of my goals for the summer is to eat more raw. Now, I’m not saying I’m following the 80-10-10 lifestyle, or anything like that, but I’ve been genuinely curious about the raw food diet for quite awhile, and now that I have many of the ‘tools of the trade’ (a good food processor, a dehydrator) and it’s summer, I’ve been trying to eat at least one raw or high raw (80-99% raw) meal per day and on Monday, I ate pretty much entirely raw, aside from one square of Alter Eco chocolate, a peanut butter Larabar (peanuts aren’t raw) and some peanut flour in my kelp noodle salad, and I felt really energized throughout the day, despite the heat and being at my internship for the afternoon. I’m definitely not planning on eating raw all day every day, but it’s nice to get a break from cooking, especially when it’s hot out. It literally took me just a few minutes to put my meals together and plate them!

With that said, here’s some raw meals and snacks I’ve been enjoying lately. These weren’t all from one day, but I’ve been eating at least one raw meal a day for probably the past week and loving it!

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Breakfast: raw ‘French toast’ topped with raw coconut ‘bacon’ and raw honey. Side of chocolate Sunwarrior+coconut cream ‘mousse’ topped with fresh raspberries.

I’ve been wanting to make over a traditional breakfast food in a raw way for awhile. I attempted pancakes, but they got too hard in the dehydrator overnight. I wanted to make waffles, but the recipe seemed complicated. When I found a recipe for raw French toast, I was intrigued. It seemed simple enough, and I had everything on hand. It didn’t turn out perfect, but it held together quite well after a few hours in the dehydrator and tasted delish topped with raw coconut ‘bacon’ and a drizzle of raw honey. A side of raw protein mousse made the breakfast complete, and a definite repeat meal.

Raw French Toast with Coconut ‘Bacon’ (vegan, gluten free, grain free, raw)

1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats

5 pitted dates

1/4 cup flaked coconut 

coconut aminos and liquid smoke, to taste (for non-raw version, can use tamari)

In a food processor or blender, grind groats into fine meal. Add in dates and process until mixture is sticky. Add in more dates or a little water as needed. Shape mixture into 4 small rectangles and place on a nonstick dehydrator sheet (or parchment paper). Dehydrate at 115 for 3-6 hours, or until mixture holds together. 

In a bowl, mix coconut flakes, coconut aminos and liquid smoke until combined. Spread coconut on nonstick dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 115 for 1-2 hours, or until crisp.

Serve raw French toast soaked in raw coconut or almond milk and top with coconut bacon and coconut nectar (or raw honey, for non-vegan version). 

Raw desserts > regular desserts.

Raw desserts > regular desserts.

I love Hail Merry’s line of raw nuts and raw Miracle Tarts, but my Whole Foods only ever carries the chocolate and Meyer lemon and I’ve been dying to try the other flavors. When my mom took me to Natural Grocers to check out their prices and selection, I was blown away by their raw food selection. Not only did they have amazing raw ‘caramel’ chocolate cheaper than Whole Foods (Righteously Raw brand, BTW!) but they also had a few more Miracle Tart flavors. I had to get the chocolate almond butter, of course, and it reminded me of a more decadent PB cup! I loved the raw almond butter filling and the chocolate mousse-like outside. I will be making a trip back to Natural Grocers for sure…and not just for their raw desserts!

Enjoying the sun before the storm.

Enjoying the sun before the storm.

I’ve been trying to get outside as much as possible, whether to lay out for half an hour or just enjoy a meal outside in the sunshine. We’ve been having some random weather (it was 90 degrees on Monday, then yesterday it got cloudy and rained, today it’s supposed to be like 60…what’s up, Colorado?) so I’ve been going outside when it’s been nice and hoping for even warmer weather.

Nori 'burrito' filled with spinach, sprouted tofu, raw kimchi and homemade raw cilantro cashew cream.

Nori ‘burrito’ filled with spinach, sprouted tofu, raw kimchi and homemade raw cilantro cashew cream.

This is another ‘high raw’ meal, because apparently sprouted tofu is generally made from cooked and sprouted soybeans, but I ate it raw (aka right out of the package, seasoned with coconut aminos) so it counts, right? I’ve been liking tofu a lot more lately but I’m wanting to go back to tempeh, since it’s a healthier form of soy and it’s higher in protein than tofu. I used to love tempeh, but after getting sick early last summer, I haven’t wanted to touch it since for some reason.

Blue skies.

Blue skies.

We got some sun yesterday morning before the clouds and thunder rolled in and rain dumped on us for a solid 15 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, it was much-needed and appreciated, but I would have liked a little more sunshine and a little less thunder and lightning. Oh well, thunderstorms are pretty much a part of life in the summers here.

Muscle progress?

Muscle progress?

I’ve been continuing with my lifting routine, doing arm and shoulder focused routines a few times a week at least and I’ve been seeing some more progress. My biceps are more defined and my triceps are a lot stronger and firmer now (they’re pretty hard even when I barely flex now) and I’m even getting some definition in my shoulders and back. I’m not lifting heavy by any means, but I’m still loving the progress I’m making. Eating clean and working out almost daily (with more regular rest days now) are really making me fitter! I would love to work out my legs too, but since I don’t have gym access, I can’t really use any machines and just have to focus on yoga and cardio to tone my legs.

High raw powerbowl for dessert. Chocolate Sunwarrior+peanut flour base (mixed with coconut milk) and topped with strawberries, crumbled Hail Merry chocolate almond butter tart and raw coconut butter.

High raw powerbowl for dessert. Chocolate Sunwarrior+peanut flour base (mixed with coconut milk) and topped with strawberries, cacao nibs, crumbled Hail Merry chocolate almond butter tart and raw coconut butter.

When I first bought Sunwarrior and coconut butter, I thought they’d be a huge waste of money. I wasn’t in love with either of them and I used them just to get rid of them. But lately I’ve been loving them like crazy and using them daily. The coconut butter (Artisana brand) is even better now that it’s summer and the heat of my house makes it a little melty. And the Sunwarrior makes the perfect protein-packed base for raw powerbowl desserts. I’ve been eating these powerbowls at least once a day and they’re still not getting old. And they’re a lot easier to make than most raw desserts!

Has it been sunny where you live? If you had to pick one meal to eat raw, what would it be?